Harmony Korine has dubbed his new trashcore romp a “found object” – something you might stumble across during a good bin rifle, although, after the film, you might have to sidestep perverts exploring their erotic potential. Regressing via the conventional Mister Lonely to the territory of Gummo’s hermetic misfits, it follows a crew of geriatric burn victims in Jackass-style seedy japes. Already likened to John Waters for its paean to trash, the lo-fi VHS (transfigured by 35mm) comes replete with playback commands and ‘80s platform game aesthetics.
The plot (or not) is a series of repetitive vignettes – plastic babies dragged about a suburban wasteland on makeshift leashes and every conceivable structure smashed with a hammer, cueing a danse macabre over the corpse. Punctuating the cast’s stream of conscious deliberations on the monstrous (like the funny lifestory of conjoined twins Eng and Chang) and touching musical odes to the lonely, there is the ever-present acuity of Korine’s wind-up cackle.
Much like Todd Browning’s Freaks updated for the confessional youtube generation, the weirdest thing remains the human “truth” within the beast. Despite the ethos of wilful crappiness (reaching a nadir in the band’s blatantly fake party-shop prosthetics), the film makes Jerry Springer’s suburbia look like the fake. The result is less monotonous than hypnotic—something sentimental in the evening gloves and half-recalled yoga postures of the be-wigged matriarch (Korine’s wife) and even the cheap communion of the eponymous trysts.
Trash Humpers screens at the New York Film Festival on October 1 and 2. Click “Read More” for the trailer.